20 - 06 - 2019

‘Firebrand’ film director Mrinal Sen dead

Kolkata,Dec 31,2018:Iconic director and winner of the Dada Saheb Phalke award, Mrinal Sen, passed away at his south Kolkata home on Sunday. He was 95.

The national award-winning film-maker was suffering from age-related issues for quite some time now.

He was best known for films like Bhuvan ShomeEk Din AchanakMrigayaInterview (his famous Calcutta trilogy), Calcutta 71 and Padatik.

Sen, along with contemporaries such as Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, was considered to be the doyen of parallel cinema whose works had won international recognition.

Having won multiple national awards, the auteur was conferred with the Dada Saheb Phalke award in 2005. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1983.

Redefining boundaries

Born in Faridpur, now in Bangladesh, Sen moved to Kolkata to study physics. He was drawn to the world of film-making and made his debut with the 1955-film Raat Bhore. He was often celebrated as the ‘firebrand’ who raised the bar of parallel cinema. The political undertones of his work redefined boundaries. Some, no doubt courted criticism.

His 1959-film Neel Akasher Nichey was the first cinema to be banned in independent India. The political undertones of the film saw it being banned for two years. Sen followed it up with Baishey Sharavan that earned him international recognition.

The director’s body of work represented films where the protagonists were everyday people who rise to challenge the pecking order. The outcome of this challenge is not important. Also, his films do not necessarily have the conventional happy ending.

Bold themes

The satire Bhuvan Shome deals with a corruptible bureaucrat, who is apparently reformed by a village belle; his classic time piece Mrigaya (The Royal Hunt) depicts the tribal hunters in Odisha.

Similarly, hunger and poverty remained central themes in many of his films.

Middle-class hypocrisies and disagreeable societal norms became central in movies such as Ek Din Pratidin (And Quiet Rolls The Dawn), Kharij (The Case is Closed) and Ek Din Achanak (Suddenly One Day).

Sen’s only Telegu venture remained Oka Oori Katha (The Outsiders). His last film Aamaar Bhuvan (This, My Land) came in 2002.

Condoling Sen’s death, West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “It is an irreparable loss to the world of film-making.”

Former Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee — known to be a close friend of Sen — expressed grief at the director’s passing away. According to Bhattacharjee, this was a “personal loss”.